In four weeks my book will be released! Until then I’m going to post an excerpt from CRUISING ATTITUDE right here each week…
10. Flying Freak Show
Dreams really DO come true, I thought to myself after a male flight attendant walked on board and announced that the agent had told him Brad Pitt would be on our flight. (This was pre-Angelina.) I snuck into the lav to fluff my hair and refresh my makeup, just in case we made eye contact, not that I actually thought it would go anywhere from there. Then again, I had met a flight attendant who went on a date with Billy Idol and another who went out with Rod Stewart after becoming acquainted in flight. When I came out of the bathroom I noticed I wasn’t alone, as all the other flight attendants looked ten times better than they did five minutes ago. The flight attendant who had made the exciting announcement now sat in a first class seat cracking up and pointing at us, “Oh my God, look at you guys! I can’t believe you fell for it!”
I wish I had fallen for it on another flight. During boarding I handed a grungy-looking guy in first class a glass of water. “Are you in a band?” I asked. There was no other way to explain the homeless attire. Turns out he was in a rock band, but not just any band: he was in my favorite band!
I looked at him funny. I’d never seen this guy before. “You must be new to the band.”
What he was, was a liar! Because the lead singer of the band I loved was hot. This guy with his scarecrow arms was not. At five- feet-seven I towered over the man. On television the lead singer looked tall and buff, always taking the stage shirtless, showing off a sexy six-pack. I highly doubted this guy on the plane had a two-pack under his thin hole-y T-shirt.
Back in the galley I decided to check the paperwork for his name. In a way I wish I hadn’t. Because there it was, his name, printed on the thin paper that had been clipped to a compartment door housing all our glassware. I couldn’t believe that was him! My rock ’n’ roll fantasy.
Before I became a flight attendant, I didn’t actually believe that dreams came true. Growing up in Dallas, a pretty big city with plenty of opportunities for a girl like me, never inspired me to think I could do anything extraordinary with my life. But once I moved to New York all that changed. I was living in one of the most exciting cities in the world and seeing things with my very own eyes that before only existed on television. Places like the Plaza Hotel, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, which had always just seemed like movie backdrops. The world was at my fingertips and I had no idea what to do with it. I couldn’t believe this was my life.
The celebrities were just the beginning of this realization. They were sitting in the same seat I had just sat in to eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’d brought from home while waiting for the flight to board. My regular butt had touched the same fabric as many celebrity butts. I’ll never forget the time I was deadheading on a flight home and the first-class flight attendant told me one of my favorite actresses had sat in my very seat after she won the Oscar last night. For whatever reason, that’s the moment I believed I really could do anything with my life. Like, for example, become a photographer. So when I found out what the cute guy in the last row of business did for a living, I no longer wanted to date him. I wanted to work for him!
The guy was a well-known photographer, and there was clearly more to be had here than a night out on a town. On a whim, I offered to work for him for free for one day just so I could see what his life was really like, and surprisingly he agreed. This would have never happened to me working a regular job on the ground! Spending the day at his SoHo studio was one of the most exciting days of my life. All I did was water plants on his rooftop deck, order lunch for a group of grungy people I’m pretty sure were in a band, and file some papers, but the point is, I was there—me! Living a life so unattainable that I hadn’t even bothered to dream about the possibility.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we jumped on his motorcycle and took to the streets of Manhattan. He wanted to pick something up at his other studio. With my arms wrapped around him, we swerved in and out of traffic. With the wind whipping through my hair, I leaned back and looked up, taking in the magnificent buildings above. Along the way we stopped to give the grunge band’s leftover gourmet lunch to a homeless lady the photographer knew by name. The experience was surreal. The best part may even be that I never heard from the photographer again. Sometimes it’s best to leave a good thing alone. That day I had the time of my life, and I got to experience something I’ll never forget. And if there’s one thing flight attendants have it’s a ton of these amazing moments.
My roommate Grace had her moment of a lifetime when Howard Stern called the house. Grace had an obsession with Howard that only got worse after she had him on a flight. Each morning she’d attempt to call his radio show, tying up the house phone for hours listening to a busy tone only to dial again. Then one day she finally got through and told him about the time she had him on a flight. They went on to dish about celebrities on the airplane. Grace wouldn’t tell Howard her name, so he dubbed her “Loose-Lipped Meg,” and soon there was an airplane buzzing in the background.
The following morning, the phone rang and when I picked up I heard the airplane buzz and then a very familiar voice asked if Loose-Lipped Meg was home. I told Howard to hold on and ran upstairs to wake up Grace. “Oh my God, it’s Howard!”
“Who?” she asked, all groggy.
She bolted out of bed, ran to the phone, and after a quick introduction to his listeners, Howard asked, “So did you see the New York Times this morning?”